A week ago, I started a twelve-week program called The Artist’s Way, developed by Julia Cameron, taught by Yenni Tawahade at Colorado Free University. I have been astounded by how powerful the experience has been in just the first week. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was committed to doing the program. What I discovered was that in the first week, I got straight to the core of what blocks my creativity, and hence my success. It is fear.
Based on this experience, I would highly recommend this program. Anyone can do The Artist’s Way on their own, but I’m finding it even more helpful to be in this workshop setting. That way I have more support: the structure, accountability, and input of all the other people in the workshop.
Although I would like to give full credit to this program, I suspect the speed at which I connected to the core block to my creativity was in part due to other work I’ve done over the years, such as training in Non-Violent Communication for the past three years.
Otherwise, I would have seen the fear as something else. In fact, earlier in the day, I did identify it as something else, which I called “addictive behavior.” I have a tendency to build something up in my mind and get super excited about it, pumping all the feel-good bio-chemicals into my brain and blood-stream, but if I don’t get the response I hope for, I crash. I go tumbling into the depths of despair.
This pattern emerged on Friday and I was so wiped out by it I cancelled my plans for the day and stayed home to lick my wounds. The blackness in my mind erased everything from the past week. I had actually had a very busy, productive, enthusiastic week. But I couldn’t remember any of it. Everything seemed meaningless and empty to me. I thought, “This is the way it’s always been. This is the way it will always be. What’s the point?”
Somehow, probably because of my training in NVC and meditation, I was able to step back just enough to objectively and honestly observe the pattern. Then I identified it as “addictive behavior.” But after attending the workshop that evening and thinking about it more deeply, I saw that underneath the addictive behavioral pattern was fear, pure and simple fear.
The issue isn’t about whether the work I do is meaningful or how other people will respond… in other words, these are not the things to focus on or change… making my work more “meaningful” or trying to manipulate the way others respond is just a way of avoiding the truth at the core. It’s about confronting my fears head on.
Trying to make my work more “meaningful” or manipulate the way others respond is like chasing a chimera. We can’t control how the world receives us. We can only be true to ourselves and give our unique gifts to the world.
We all have fear. It’s hard-wired into our brains and central nervous systems. Once upon a time in human evolution, it probably served a useful purpose to keep us alive. But now it’s our greatest obstacle.
At this point, so early in this twelve-week program of The Artist’s Way, I don’t yet know what the solution is, but the fact that I have identified my core issue in the first week, means I have eleven weeks (in fact, my whole life) to find ways to transcend my fears so they no longer block my creativity and success.